The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Shop Window!

Just in case you are looking for some Christmas stocking fillers or that little bit of beneficial personal indulgence - here are some online links to my little corner of Author's World ...

"Don't Think of a Black Cat - A beginners guide to NLP", while also available at Amazon, is in the Lulu Marketplace at a discount.
There is also an eVersion at Lulu as well.

"Mind How You Go - Steps to enhance your life's journey" is my first large scale work. A journey into and around the Mind!
It is available at Amazon:
and also via my publishers at Lulu:

"Lamplighters" is just out and the eVersion is my first venture onto Kindle:

The paperback version is, curiously, entitled "Lamplighters 2". The reasons for this are a shrouded mystery which is not revealed at the end of the book!
It is also at Lulu and will be available at Amazon in the New Year:

All the paperbacks have ISBN numbers so they can be ordered from your local bookshop.

I'm always happy to dispense signed copies, so if you would like to take that option then you can order your signed copy by emailing me here:
NB There is a small charge for P&P in addition to the listed price.

Best Wishes and very many thanks to all my new and regular readers!

Monday, December 10, 2012


I read an interesting article by a colleague that alluded to ‘teachability’ – the factor that recruiters, coaches, ‘people developers’, teachers, look for in individuals and make their judgements accordingly. This ‘teachability’ or ‘coachability’ factor is not so much about raw talent or current ability, but is about potential – a person’s ability to gain experience and knowledge and to harness that gain for their own good and/or for the good of the organisation (be it company, school, club or team, choir, orchestra, etc.)

Now in linguistic terms, ‘coachability’ implies there is a rating upon some sliding scale - whereas 'coachable' or 'uncoachable' is much more of a flat judgement - praise or condemnation. And to my mind when a coach uses comments like “that lad is uncoachable” it says more about themselves than the person they are describing. Of course there are contexts and constraints upon coaches such as time, the rest of the group, the need for results, etc. These may be part of the 'whys' of such condemnation, unwise as it might be. However, in an unconstrained 1-to-1 scenario - 'coachability' is very much about coach ability.
So given the sliding scale of 'coachability', where might be a place to start in order to view someone's location on that scale.

Task performance

There’s an interesting way of viewing how we take on the performance of tasks, and this falls into four main categories:-
·         Planning
·         Initiation of action
·         Perseverance
·         Conclusion of action

When we objectively rate ourselves out of 10 in each of these areas, we not only get a handle on our relative strengths and weaknesses in task performance, we also get clues as to how to bring about change for ourselves. 

It is the level of our open-mindedness to spot, acknowledge and act upon those clues that gives us our ‘coachability’ or ‘teachability’ rating and here's why:-
Bringing about change is, in itself, a task. And the planning, starting, continuing and concluding of bringing about that self-change, whatever it may be, is the very kernel of our coachability.

Of course, if we are working with someone else (a coach for instance) then they can help us spot the clues and they can set up some routines, some practices, to help us to act upon those clues. However, that is all they can do.
The pivotal area of acknowledgment belongs entirely with us. If we choose not to acknowledge the clues, then we deny ourselves any possibility of change. Try as they may, no coach, teacher or therapist can bring about any change without their clients’ acknowledgement of those clues.

Giving up
Returning to coach ability for a moment, I like to think that I never give up on any client – before they give up on themselves. I do know how easily people give up on themselves so, given MY beliefs about everyone being capable of far more than they think, then my path of perseverance is a very straightforward one. Perseverance will always outweigh severance – and not just by three letters!

So why do people give up on themselves so easily?
It’s all in a word – belief

When we believe we cannot do something then we will look for and interpret our actions and their outcomes to back up our beliefs, to prove them right – to prove we are right for, after all, we are our beliefs aren’t we? 
“There – see! I told you I couldn’t do it. Stupid of you to try and change my mind wasn’t it!?”
And there, out of our thoughts and our very mouths, are the clues to our failure.
“My mind was closed and set; you – the coach – tried to change it and I proved you wrong.”
The "I", here, is in denial of their ability to learn or change and hands all responsibility for their change over to the coach.
When minds are closed, beliefs never change.

So how do I set about coaching someone with a closed mind, with beliefs that are unassailably behind castle walls within the client’s “keep”.
Well there are a number of ways of breaching those ramparts, of storming their ‘Bastille’.
I can lay siege and look to decay their fortress through drip-fed remarks, affirmations and comments. I can undermine their foundations by disproving their undeniable proofs at every opportunity, ‘trumping their aces’ if you like. I can assemble a load of weaponry and batter them into submission, or assemble a load of troops, run up some ladders and get in that way.

These are all interventions of some form or other. So are there any other ways – because the beliefs within the castle are likely to defend themselves against assault aren’t they? Wouldn’t it be better – for the fabric of the castle – that the beliefs were changed through persuasion, through dialogue? The end needs to be that the client (the castle) believes that they changed their own mind, so that they can own and be responsible for that change.
I cannot get you to give up smoking – but I can get you to change your mind around certain things so that you can give up your own smoking.
Minds can only change through being open.

Wanting to change
So you want to change; and that could be just learning more, learning better, changing some habit that is a nuisance that is blighting some part of your life, getting to feel better about yourself and some of the things you do, dealing with things that affect you in a better way, and so on. These are all elements of life’s performance – and you’d like to perform better so that life could be better.

So how ‘teachable’ or ‘coachable’ are you? Or – given what I said before – how ‘coachable’ do you think you are? How easy is it for your castle’s drawbridge to be lowered? How do you feel when you hear, “I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t.” We are all comfortable with the familiar, we wear it with ease – so if your language, especially the self-directed and familiar language, is liberally sprinkled with can’t, mustn’t, shouldn’t, won’t, wouldn’t and the like then it will help you to recognise that and make some changes to those habits.
How open is your mind, how much are you prepared to embrace change, how much of your own time and work are you prepared to put in to cementing these building blocks of change into place? How much can you invest in acknowledging the clues?

I’ve worked with thousands of people of all ages in a wide variety of contexts. I am neither successful nor unsuccessful – yet I’ve had clients who have made changes with amazing outcomes that have transformed their lives. I’ve had clients who have made changes and now see things differently. I’ve had clients (albeit for a very short while!) for whom the time spent with me yielded nothing for them.
Many of those thousands could have changed what they have via their own resources. However, they may have wanted the process accelerated, or they may have believed they didn’t have those resources at the time.

I’ve changed many things in my own life too, yet I know that life would have been different if I knew back then what I know now. But I can’t go back – I can’t unburn the toast. But I can start with a new slice of bread right here – right now – and make better toast. There are still things I’d like to change and learn, and now I’m in a better place than I ever was because of my own ‘teachability’, my ‘coachability’.

Someone said to me very recently that there is still so much old negative thinking in her life in spite of all the good things she now enjoys. When I asked her what would her life be like if she could get rid of all that stuff, her entire physiology lit up and she said “that'd be amazing”. I then asked her how she might start to put some action towards that and her reply was “I don’t know.” I said she might need to get more familiar with “I don’t know” and I gave her some clues and pointers and things to read, watch and listen to - starting with her own body language and thought-driven beliefs. 

At some point she may or may not want to see me as a client, and then – and only then - her ‘coachability’ and my coach ability will be factors in those interactions.

And so, in a way this article will be waiting for her when that time comes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

See Me After Tea

Apportion control
Life can be bitter-sweet – in fact life IS full of potentially bitter-sweet experiences. We can experience bad things on a good day and good things on a bad day.

Here’s the thing though – they are all just days, and they are all just things. It’s all down to how WE frame them, code them up, react to them, post-rationalise them and keep re-presenting them to ourselves. And that’s just a load of thinking – a load of scenery painting.
It’s how we build our own personal histories and superstitions, it’s how we match patterns – however spurious – and then generalise and distort them to make “more meaning” out of them. When all the time – in the cosmic scheme of things, of things like that - their nature is about as random and their movement is about as Brownian as our logical brain would normally discard.

If the world is an empty stage populated by people and events, then who paints the scenery and puts it in place? Who writes the dialogues, the sub-plots, the actions, the movements? Who manipulates the lighting and the sound-track?
To whom do we apportion control of this vast edifice?

In the Spotlight
In my small corner of the stage I first grappled with the nature of the bitter-sweet on my 12th birthday. I was at boarding school, in my second term, and my parents were 10,000 miles away. Yes I had family nearer, and I had a handful of school friends and a boatload of school acquaintances – but no loved ones with me in person to share my birthday.

My parents, bless them, knew that if we’d all been together the thing that would have meant most to me AND them, as a shared experience, was a fabulous birthday cake. OK presents were fine and I had a good number of those, but sharing the cake would have topped the lot. So they arranged for the best confectioner and cake-maker in town to make and deliver to me, at school, a fabulous cake.
And it was fabulous!
Cream, meringue, my favourite soft fruits, all interwoven with the most delightful sponge. A veritable Supercake!
250 boys were sat in the school dining room eating away, and there was a hubbub of voices, and sounds of crockery and cutlery. That’s the noisy scene. One of the cook’s assistants walks in with a presentation box and the duty prefect calls for silence and then asks “Where’s Wright?” I was the only one thus named in the school so I called out ‘yes’ and was duly presented with the cake box. The lads on my table were chuffed and excited since they got to share my fabulous cake. I became the glowing nucleus on that table, in that part of the dining room. The hubbub and noise swirled around once more. The scene continued to play out.

Some more minutes of the mealtime passed and then silence was summoned once more. “Where’s Wright?” came the call from the same prefect. There were expectant murmurings as I called out yes and he approached me. Some people were obviously anticipating another fabulous cake or more goodies!

“The Headmaster wants to see you after tea in his study.”
The table fell silent as I, blissfully unaware, thought that he probably wanted to wish me Happy Birthday as well! This was short-lived though. The table knew better however, as the wording of the summoning to the HM’s study meant only one thing.

The true awakening to the serving of life’s bitter-sweet portions arrived shortly after tea as I received six strokes of the cane with the taste of that fabulous cake still on my lips.
From then on the times around my birthday have been particularly bitter-sweet.
Or so I made it seem.
Birthdays are always abundant with good experiences so it’s very easy to notice the not-so-good-stuff – especially if you go looking for it, are prepared for it, are expecting it. And my reaction to that stuff was always to code it up as
it’s my birthday and I always get bad amongst the good at my birthday. There’s always something bad on my birthday to spoil it.”  Even if the bad was pretty mild compared to something bad a few months back, I would distort it, emotionalise it, and still code it up as Bad Birthday stuff!

Rainy Days and Mondays
We’re all very good at doing this – people will talk about “these are never very good times for me”, where there are associations with events, anniversaries etc. Some people even get places with negative associations; certain songs or pieces of music can do it for us too. Weather and days of the week also play a big role. We are very susceptible and can get very good at it!

Essentially we are pre-framing our scenes and painting our own upcoming scenery – and the irony is we are painting our scenery using the very paint from right back at that first instance, that first experiential scene.
If I look back at that 12th birthday scenario for me, the traumatic tipping point wasn’t the cane since that was real. It was the coding of my negative emotional reactions to a collection of things, all painted up with the colour of loneliness. I’d been caned in May and February, and it was no big deal. But around my birthday it was just SO unfair, it spoilt my celebrations, and reminded me that – for the very first time in my life – I was very much alone at a time when I’d always been surrounded by love.

Excuses and Reminders
Now it’s very easy to make the excuse that this all happened to a little boy who was just twelve, and how could he be expected to react in any other way than be upset. And of course you’d be right. We deal with things with whatever resources we have at the time, and a 12 year old does not have the resources of someone much older. There’s this widely held belief that experiences like this are “character-forming”. Makes a man of you – teaches you how to handle yourself – and other well-worn phrases get bandied about. And there’s a degree of truth in that. Getting the cane on my birthday gave me an unexpected chunk of street-cred at school; I learned how to handle myself in terms of ‘future-cane’ and other retribution; it definitely formed my character.
However – it’s the stuff going on in the confines of our psyche where the pernicious damage is done – by ourselves to ourselves.

When I get these reminders nowadays I don’t get anything triggered in the way I used to. I’ve been able to dismantle the aftermath of that imprint (and the numerous subsequent carefully distorted bad experiences) which I carried for years like another large set of emotional baggage.

Just as well really as today, in the midst of opening some delivered birthday presents, I innocently took a cup of tea up to my Dad ** in bed. I normally notice if he is not himself – his regular persona – and today (understandably) I was caught unawares. He threw the tea all over me and launched into a string of foul-mouthed invective about what an awful person I am! I did what I usually do when he is like this, and beat a hasty retreat – soaked in hot tea.
Now, old patterns of birthday experiences would have turned this into a major upset – but this time nothing prevailed – and eventually it got round to humour.

And for me, following today’s revisited trauma, “See me after Tea,” takes on a whole new meaning!

** (I live with and care for my Dad who is 93 and has dementia)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


There was an amusing episode at the end of our rugby strength and conditioning session this week, where – just for fun - the players were leapfrogging tackle bags stood on end. It all went well until one of the guys decided he would leapfrog from a standing start. He got up fine but had no forward momentum and landed on the top of the bag. With his weight, the bag then collapsed and he went down with it, landing horizontally on his back on top of the (now) flat bag.
Remember that TV activity game Wipeout? Well it was like a scene in that!

This got me thinking about how things go much better for us when we are grounded compared to when we’re stressed out and tense. In terms of the player, all eyes were on him, he was trying extra hard to impress, plus his body was tired after an hour-long session. In terms of grounded, he certainly was afterwards – even if not before!

Our Thinking versus our Groundedness

It is all in the nature of life how we feel about things ahead of time, how and if we attempt things, how well we do things, and how we get to feel about ourselves afterwards.
Of course this colours how we might do these same things next time, right down to whether or not we even attempt them.

I used to subscribe to the notion that the more thought I put to doing something, the better I would be. “Get your mind around it!” I would keep repeating to myself – “Focus!”
Does this sound familiar? Is this you, or your team mates? Is this your manager, your boss, your teachers? This idea of it being “best practice” is - to my mind - a total myth.
If it is “pay attention” that they want, then surely you are already doing this. What you really need to do is to “Get your mind out of it!” The only focus you need to do (if at all) is visual – and that is all part of your necessary processes anyway.

You need to be grounded for optimal execution of the tasks in hand – and thinking about anything, especially about anything personal, will degrade the optimal level.

Lock-out or Wipeout
Executing closed skills, after the set up, requires total lock-out of thought. There is a ratio of lock-out to wipeout – more of one leads to less of the other.

So what about complex processes – where tasks are stepped in a linear or sequential way or maybe in a concurrent way?
A good example is driving a vehicle where there are both types of complexity happening. Now for the learner there is plenty of focus AND attention going on, and part of getting to grips with driving skills is to master the shifting nature of that attention.
In terms of Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic there is a huge amount of incoming data – and when we are new to driving we are very ‘clunky’ when it comes to dealing with things in the visual field. We LOOK in the mirror instead of glancing, we LOOK to find the gear stick or pedals instead of feeling for them with our hands and feet. We’re so busy paying attention to what is happening outside and inside the vehicle that we don’t totally hear what is being said to us by our instructor or passengers.
Eventually we trade in our white knuckles and L-plates and cope admirably with the complex processes. That is, until circumstances are tweaked and our abilities are tested. That is when we’ll try and think our way out of the problem. And when we do, lock-out diminishes and wipeout becomes a distinct probability. Whether it is icy roads, alcohol, fog, or anger - the skills always degrade.

If we are grounded then there is a smoother linkage between all our concurrent and sequential processes.
Being grounded in our lives

All of us are fairly capable of many things on a functional level – we can all do plenty of stuff to a reasonable level of competency. If we are GOOD at something then we become more competent and more functional. If being EXCEPTIONAL at something is what we want, then the biggest hurdle we need to be aware of is the level of groundedness required from us. We need to develop an ability to locate that ground when necessary.
If there is something we are NOT GOOD at and would like to get on top of, or get better at, then again groundedness is a huge factor in sustaining our progress towards more competence.
It’s interesting to view the progress of celebrity competitors every year in Strictly Come Dancing. These are people who have excelled in some other part of their lives and are now taking on a particularly complex set of skills and disciplines around expressive movement. Listening to their language, witnessing occasional scenes from their practice times and viewing their week-by-week execution of the dance, it is a showcase of both their progressing skillsets AND their ability to draw upon levels of groundedness within their psyche.

In essence being grounded is about having a good relationship with ourselves. A relationship that supports us by knowing that our feeling is down to our thinking – and that if we’re feeling down or low then it is looped in to our thinking also being down or low. How we nurture and foster that relationship is surely one of life’s most fundamental quests.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Will You Shut Up! - Can't You See I'm Thinking?

I was en route to an appointment and this journey involved 4 sub-modes of transport. Car – Trains – Bus – Shanks’ Pony.

Now - who is in control to make the journey smooth, and the outcome favourable in ‘goodtime’? Of course it is Me – Them – Them – Me. The inner movements of this symphony of travel are out of my hands in terms of driving the vehicle, but like all good planning I built in a good buffer or cushion to allow for the improbabilities of ‘cosmic alignments’.
Now if a large ? has just appeared above your head then feel free to erase it. My improbabilities of ‘cosmic alignments’ is merely a euphemism for random delays caused by circumstances beyond my control.

Here’s the scene on the train journey –
The train arrives for me to get on almost twenty minutes late. “No problem,” I think because I’ve built in that time cushion of safety. “Well done,” I congratulate myself, “and the driver may make up some of that time as well.
In the set of seats in front of me are four young women on a day trip to London. I can tell from the sounds of their conversations they are excited and animated. Two of them have a style of giggle that might lend itself to possible criticism, and they all have their voice volumes set to the “eleven” button.
The journey continues, and as I watch in silence the countryside, stations, towns etc go flashing past, and their conversations continue unabated.

All is well – I feel good and looking forward to the appointment, everything’s pretty much on time, and I’m listening softly to their conversations, not at all bothered or irritated.
An hour has gone by and the train slows coming into a station we are not scheduled to stop at and, after going through the station, it comes to a complete stop. And for a moment, their conversation and all other sounds stop as well. It’s like one of those “tumbleweed” moments in a ghost town when only the breathing of the wind is audible.
And then the chatter returns – ONLY now along with the young women’s chatter is the sound of my own “brain chatter”. That internal dialogue or, as I sometimes call it, that infernal dialogue has suddenly kicked into the foreground of my mind.

And it is telling me, “Oh dear. I am going to miss my connection to the second train on my journey.” My brain chatter doesn’t just say this once – no, it keeps repeating it. I keep looking at my watch – time distorts. Seconds become minutes, minutes elongate. I do the maths and even if I catch the next available connection I’m sat there thinking and trying to just work out how late I’m going to be for this appointment. “Grrr, how irritating – is this train ever going to move?”
I then become aware that over the clamour of my own chatter I can hear these wretched voices and their stupid and meaningless conversation, and those infuriating and inane giggles. And I nearly, very nearly say,
Will you just shut up – can’t you see I’m thinking?

At that moment the train lurches into motion just as I start laughing at myself. Not loudly you understand – just an audible chuckle – but enough to hit the reset button inside my head. Clarity returns, answers emerge and the train gathers momentum. Plus – the conversations and giggles fade back into the background of my consciousness from whence they came.
The train arrives at Reading and I get off, make enquiries and catch a connection about five minutes later. The first train continues to Paddington, spiriting the young women to their day out, complete with their continued chatting and giggling.

I eventually arrive at my appointment early, imbued with the wisdom of having recovered from the visitation from a particular gremlin called “The Purveyor of Errant Thinking”. He’d shown me his wares for about five minutes and I’d almost been convinced that I’d buy some – because they looked SO real and just fitted my circumstances to a T.
When I arrived I imagined for a moment turning up to my appointment wearing that T-shirt I nearly bought, feeling uncomfortable, flustered and not in a good place – and chuckled again!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Falling Out Of Loving

I was talking with a young friend with regard to some issues he was encountering in his life – issues that I understood to a degree, and issues that resonated with me in that I too had previously encountered those self same issues.

One of the biggest loves of my life is music. Now my relationship with music is not just as a listener, but also as a musician. I had no formal musical education - it was all out of having a really good ear for the resonance of sounds. It helped that I could sing as well and, in the ‘do-your-own-thing’ climate of the 60’s I taught myself the guitar. People showed me shapes, and I learned basic tab, and from there I could accompany myself.
As a listener I cultured and developed what I thought was “the only” way we, as human beings, listened to music. I’ve discovered over the years that my way of listening was, like everyone else’s, quite unique!
And part of this particular pathway I’m wandering down reaches out from just the musical and sonic experience, into many other areas of life where we tend – until we know – to think that there is only one way to go and this is the way we all do it.
So to cut a long story short – I’m talking here about love and loving, and what it means, how it is, the notion of falling, and how we can bounce back!

Music as the food of Love

Music is a resonance - and the music we like, what attracts us to it, is that resonance and where it impacts upon our experience. We might describe it as “it just sounds nice” without really being able to describe it any more than that. Rather in the same way that we might describe someone we resonate with (and I’ll describe that as ‘vibrate’ at the same frequency) – as “nice”. At the time, knowing why doesn’t seem half as important as that “niceness” that we are feeling. We might go a little further and use words such as “attractive”, “adorable”, and “lovely” and others in a similar synonymous context.
When there’s enough “niceness” and other internal descriptions about something, or indeed someone, we move into the next level of feeling. There’s a deepening here, where the resonance is not just on the surface but reaches down into the very depths of our being. We then venture to label it in terms of “love”.
Now music, for me, is a constant. I love it all. I have preferences of taste at certain times, and in certain contexts, but in essence I love it all – because it IS a constant, because it all has a resonance, and because it is a deep and meaningful language beyond words. It has been my companion for most of my years, and I’ve always loved it.

Except – for the time when it let me down. Or at least when I convinced myself it had let me down. This was the time I used to describe as “when I fell out of love with music”.
Now we all have things we love and for some of us, when we abandon those things – for whatever reason – we describe it as “I fell out of love,” or “I stopped loving”. There’s an ambiguity here, a contra-diction so to speak and it’s this – we actually fall out of loving. We fall out of the act of loving, and the falling out is our action.

Put it this way - if it’s the experience of resonance in the music that I love, then, when “the love goes” the music hasn’t changed – I have changed my perception of the feeling that resonance gives me. That’s what lies behind the “falling out of loving”.
Now you might say this all semantics. There is some linguistic trickery going here! Love, loving, falling into, falling out of – they’re only words; and words are all I have to take your heart away. **
Love is a noun and a verb; loving is an adjective that we also use in a non-adjectival way. We describe love in a metaphorical sense, as some container, receptacle, we fall into and out of. Yet loving is an act we can engage in (in a variety of ways) without necessarily being in the receptacle, the thing, called ‘love’.

In truth, love and loving are a lot more than just usage and semantics. They are one of those eternal mysteries that our Minds endeavour to solve for us.

Programmes we run

When I fell out of love with music, I had nothing to do with it for about six to nine months. The music went out of my life, and I barred myself from engaging with it at any level. What had happened to those deep resonances in me? I denied the depths, numbed and nullified the feelings and almost entranced myself into a total shallowness of experience.

The love “went wrong” when my business, that involved music, became unsuccessful – and the mental programmes and strategies that I’d been running before and through this particular period made me put my relationship with music in an inappropriate place.

With reference to the logical levels in NLP, I had always placed some things at the level of Identity that I’ve since discovered would have been best left at their own particular level. They drive me towards seeing the world and reacting in a less than useful way.
Now to be fair, we all do this in some way, shape or form, and part of helping to rationalise our understanding and therefore interaction with other people and things, is to get to know about the logical levels, and what we all, individually, ascribe to each of our levels.
Honesty, Rejection and Failure

I’ve written elsewhere about my personal view of honesty and that I place honesty at the level of my Identity. Until recently I assumed this for everyone else too.
Now honesty for most people is a value and is placed at the level of Values & Beliefs. A burglar probably has no strong value where honesty is concerned. For him honesty may mean something else, which gives him no negative feelings associated with the Behaviour of burglary. Yet when he performs the Behaviour of burglary, his ‘victims’ will not see burglary as mere behaviour – to them it will be judged by their values, and in some cases they will take the burglary behaviour as an attack on their Identity.
Given this, when my music business failed I didn’t just view it at the level of Skills and Capabilities. Its failure was my failure; I was a failure, it was me, at the level of Identity. In the cupboard of my Identity there was a shelf and on that shelf was this failure. Plus, I also put everything else on that shelf that was associated with it – and this included music. Because my business was all about music and it was my love of music that was the reason for the business – then the failure was all bound up with my love of music.
 If the business had been selling something mundane, something I didn’t love, then I may well have viewed the failure in a more logical way. You could describe it, in common terms, as my taking it personally.

Likewise had my view of my business success resided just at the Capabilities level, then my love of music would have been unsullied by my disappointment of not making a commercial venture viable.

Rejection and how it impacts upon us can take a variety of guises and interpretations – rather like burglary! In my relationship of love with music I felt let down and rejected.
It may sound a ludicrous notion - being ‘rejected’ by something that created the joy of a deeply felt resonance. And indeed, yes, that’s what it is - ludicrous!
But at the time, no one explained that to me and I didn’t know myself either. I just lumped everything together in one big, dark bag and dumped it in the middle of my Identity cupboard.

How do you handle failure and rejection?

In many ways, how we cope, our resilience, our “bounce-back-ability”, is really down to where we hold failure and rejection in terms of our logical levels. If we “take things to heart” then it’s most likely that it’s our way of describing “things” as being at our Identity level.
You will find that putting things in a different cupboard will increase your resilience on a vast scale.

Putting it back together

I got back to re-engaging with my love of music thanks to a period of time. I then got to viewing my failure, and – more to the point – my positive experiences from what were good things about the business, in a much more clear and grounded way. In more recent times, mainly through certain understandings within NLP, I have found out how and why I had perceived things the way I had.

“Re-finding the love” is something we all have to do from time to time in terms of our many relationships. These relationships can be the ones with ourselves; our partners, families and loved ones; mankind and people in general; our faith; and – as in the case of my music – the things we love doing and being engaged with.
There’s the “time is a great healer way” – which I adopted with music – and there are other ways. It all depends what we are missing from our deepest experience and resonances.
I’d say it starts with an examination of what’s important to us about the relationship, and where – within ourselves – we experience that most important thing. Identifying what it is and where we feel it is, orients us to a place of familiarity in memory.
Some of this may be emotionally painful, and avoiding the pain is to perpetuate our lack of understanding of what the pain is trying to tell us. That pain is evidenced by the level of emotion you are allocating to the procedure. When the pain diminishes you can be sure you are gaining a fuller understanding of the meaning, and a better facility to receive the intuitive messages.
From here there are two routes you might want to go down as there will be discoveries on both paths.
You can associate with and interrogate the pain to learn more about the message within. You can also dissociate yourself into being a witness, observing your part and the other part of this relationship. Within each of these journeys there will be things that emerge that will be of use to you.
Store in a calm, clear place

Through the years of the forming of our personas we are given some powerful agents, strong emotions, as we build our lives with regards to our blueprints, our plans, our maps of the world. These powerful agents and strong emotions come with a warning. They’re vital to us, important that we have them, but we need to read the labels and store them in the right way. That way they will serve us well when we want them. We shouldn’t be casual about them either.

From explosives and poisons to bleach and aerosols, they all have their uses – but if we store them in the wrong place at any time, before or after use, there will be consequences we’d rather not experience.
If we put values and behaviours on shelves in a different cupboard such as Identity then they won’t be in their ‘calm and clear place’. Sometimes they’ll explode in our faces.

And if we don’t know what are the correct places and temperatures to store certain things, then we’ll keep running into issues with our views of the world – AND occasionally with the things we love as well.

**  The Bee Gees

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Wind Beneath The Wings

I was conversing with an online friend recently, and he mentioned some upcoming stage performances he was planning and how he was looking for more inspiration. Now I don’t know whether the inspiration he was looking for was specifically about content, or perhaps a mixture of content and context – however, I did offer this observation to our conversation.

“There’s a fascinating and recurring theme that runs through inspiration. And that is that it is all about what lies behind the How To. And sometimes the behind can be several layers behind as well.”  

Now inspiration can – on the face of it – take many forms.
“You are a great inspiration to me.”
“The feats of our Olympians and Paralympians inspired me to do this.”
“This is such inspiring music.”
“The landscape was so inspiring it took my breath away.”

These are just a few examples that come to my mind, and I’m sure you’ll have a number of your own as well.
There’s a curious contradiction with my fourth example and it’s all about what “inspire” means in the physical sense. Inspire and expire – are all really about the breathing cycle; and yet here is a phrase that seemingly describes the landscape as inspiring (causing an in-breath) whilst at the same time saying it was SO inspiring that it took my breath away! Giving and taking away, all at the same time. Now what’s really behind the contradiction is, to my mind, the idea that inspiring is about creating a NEW breath whilst taking away the OLD one.
Just as every new breath is enriching, invigorating, life-giving – and every old one is stale, spent – then inspiration, like that, is about perceiving things in a new way and doing things in a new way. The greater the inspiration, the greater the changes wrought in us.

To return to the breathing parallel - another thing about inspiration, and continued inspiration in particular, is about the quality of air. If our house, or environment, is full of stale air, then the quality of our inspiration will be lower. How many times have you gone out for a walk and, by breathing fresher air, you have returned with a different perspective?
So – metaphorically – if our minds are closed, with the doors and windows shut tight, then the quality of our inspiration will be continually diminishing. Some of the most dull, unimaginative, uninspiring people I know – are the ones with closed minds! Stands to reason that, over the years, breathing in their own stale ideas, expired thoughts, burnt out notions, has led them into and perpetuated that dull condition.
So for continued quality inspiration, make sure you throw open your windows and doors and allow good clean and fresh air to flow through your life.
The How To

Now, as someone who has spent a life loving music, inspiration in the auditory mode - for me - is right up there with the visual. Yes, I can feel inspired – but it is only through the resonances in my body caused by particular sounds and particular sights. I can watch someone do amazing things and will not be inspired until I get that self-same felt sense of resonance. Then, there will have to have been something auditory or visual to cause the resonance. People don’t inspire me per se, their actions do. The resonance of my appreciation of people takes place in a different part of me – and I translate and describe it in a totally different way.
When it comes to my being inspired by the things people do, and wanting to put that inspiration into action – I will always go towards the How To. My question is always, “How do they do what they do that inspires me?”

One of the things I discovered with modelling through NLP is how many layers can lie behind a person’s actions. Now, I don’t intend here to go into modelling as a process in any detail – however everything becomes very interesting when we link modelling with inspiration.
In her latter years my Mum took up painting. It was something she loved as a child and, eventually, she felt she had enough time on her hands to devote to her being an artist. She was pretty good at it – and, through going to classes, reading instructional books etc, she also got very much better at the process. She was – in effect – modelling excellence. After a number of years of painting in a variety of mediums (water colours, oils etc), she happened to start doing copies of certain old masters. And it was here that her modelling of excellence really accelerated.

She painted a copy of Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. Through the process of copying this work she gained a huge understanding of using colour in a particular way, applying colour through brushwork etc in a particular way, so that instead of a bland copy generated almost from ‘painting by numbers’ she’d got right inside Vermeer’s head in terms of HOW he did what he did. In objective terms her copy was exceptional – and she was inspired to do more copying work as a result. Her copying by modelling the How To of certain artists enabled her to achieve things in painting she had no idea she was either capable of, or would ever be capable of.
I’m a big fan of all works by Turner. One year, as a birthday present, she painted me a small copy of The Fighting Temeraire. Originally she had doubted her ability to do it; she described his use of light and colour as being so far beyond her capabilities that this was likely to be the present I might never receive! But her quality of modelling of Vermeer was the template that inspired her to get to grips with Turner. She applied all the same rules of thumb, the similarity of approach, and I duly received my amazing present.
As time went on she did a number of other copies of old masters – mostly one-offs. However, she did four others of Vermeer’s work, which are all exceptional. She had a particular love for, and affinity with, his creative processes. She was on his ‘wavelength’, you might say, and at a very deep level.

A few years before she died she suffered a stroke, which took away a lot of the fine motor skills in her painting hand. For nearly a year she never even picked up a pencil, let alone a brush. Eventually she broke that ‘barrier’ and was able to get back to what she really loved doing – putting her various inspirations into action. I suggested to her that, given her degraded fine motor skills, she might now take a more impressionistic approach – where the necessity for intricate detail was less prevalent. The spur was her getting a commission to do a copy of Monet’s La Promenade.
It was an amazing success. She loved and admired Monet’s work and, with her faculties intact in terms of the skills of modelling, she duly completed a superb copy much to the delight of the lady who had commissioned the work.

Inspiration comes in many forms, and yet the common thread is bound up in the song:-
The Wind Beneath My Wings”.
So, it can be “I can do X, because of you” – even though you can’t do X – because you’ve released something in me I didn’t know I had.”
Or it can be like my Mum and Vermeer, or Monet, “I can do X, because I’ve got right inside How you do what you do.”

Inspiration, as a process, is very, very hypnotic. There’s a change of breath, a change of state, a change of mindset, a wind of change. There’s a disorientation that takes place, and things contrive to make our perception of Now become different – by changing all that is going on for us on the inside. We can soar to new heights, lifted aloft by that wind of change.
When I’m inspired by music, or a sunset, I can feel that wind of change. They make me want to express the resonance or the wind that I feel, in a way I’ve perhaps not done before. Making that expression is about sharing and passing on the inspiration.
When I see someone play an awesome shot I can feel that wind of change. The thing is – I’m not inspired to go out and replicate the shot for myself in whatever context. My expression is to bottle up that wind of change and to share it and pass it on. And by getting inside the mind of the one whose actions I have been inspired by, I can bring more meaning to the wind of change.

Understanding Inspiration can help us to find it because we have a better idea of what we’re looking for. It’s one of those intangibles that we can’t put in a wheelbarrow – and because of its intangibility, the mere act of looking for it might just be the way we’ll never see it – and so know that it’s there.

My online friend never set out to inspire me to write this article – but he did. I never started my conversation with him looking for inspiration – but I found it. This may just be a very small inspirational episode, but I’ve taken action as a result and expressed some of the connections and resonances from my experience of the episode. The mere act of your reading this means that I’ve shared the inspiration – however small. It may possibly resonate with you at a ‘feeling’ level, make you examine your perceptions about inspiration, maybe even inspire you.
It is all borne on the wind ... which may just be passing through the open doors and windows of your house.
It is all borne on the wind, and if you unfurl your wings ...

Who Knows?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Under The Radar

I was at one of the after school clubs I run yesterday, and before we started our cricketing activity I took the register – and then asked the group a couple of ‘off the wall’ questions.

I never pass up the opportunity to slip some kernels of ideas under the radar – because there’s the world "out there"; then there’s the world we think we see, the world we think others see, the world we are all manipulated to see by society, institutions, advertisers, magicians etc. Let's face it - to be fair, there is an almost infinite number of worlds when we are dealing with perceptions.

Reception and Perception

So you walk into a building and immediately you are confronted with that inner question,
“Where do I go?”
Once you’ve got over the wide-eyed wonder of the all the variances of the place, then you’ll be most likely to make for Reception. Of course, if you’ve been here before and you know where you are going, then you just make for the corridor, lift or the stairs. Once at reception you’ll ask the Receptionist for help and directions and ... off you go!
When you enter the building of life – we’ll call it the Worlds Building – then a rather similar process takes place. It starts with wide-eyed wonder, then you make for Perception and you talk to a Perceptionist. When we are growing up, we meet our first Perceptionists at home and with our immediate family, and after that we meet a wide variety of other Perceptionists as well. And this is how the whole conditioning process starts and evolves. Are they proper perceptionists though? We just don’t know! Maybe they only know about one small part of the Worlds Building – maybe they, too, have no idea what this is all about!

So, to get back to the original comparisons - if you are familiar with where you are going in the Worlds Building, then you’ll enter and miss out Perception and make straight for the stairs or lift and head off to where you are going.
The thing is – the Worlds Building is an infinite and gigantic edifice, and you are just heading for one small part of it. What about the remainder?

Perhaps you need to find another place because the one you know and have been going to for some time, is no longer doing anything for you; perhaps you want more out of life; there could be a whole variety of reasons for your desire for change.

Now if you don’t have any idea that the Worlds Building is full of many different rooms, because your thinking leads you believe that the rooms are all alike, then you’ll feel stuck – and maybe you’ll take life into your own hands; seek other, maybe drastic, solutions.

However, if you do have enough of an idea about the Worlds Building, then you can either wander around on a quest, a ‘voyage of discovery’ – or you can go and talk to a Perceptionist and get a clearer idea of where you might go next.

A Perceptionist can be like a travel agent, giving you a variety of destinations where you’ll get a range of views of the world. The choice of destinations is yours – they have merely revealed the world of possibilities.
Some travel agents might guide you (maybe manipulate you) towards holidays that they themselves like, or ones that pay them the highest commission. Some may only be able to show you a limited number of options. Here again, you won’t necessarily know this. When you’re going for change – the only thing you can really trust is yourself, your intuition.
“I like the look of this one. That one sounds good. This feels like the right one for me.”

Deciding which choice

The Perceptionist guides you towards the Understanding that in the Worlds Building every room has a view; that pretty much all of the views are different; that the windows are all of varying sizes; that YOU are viewer.
The travel agent, on the other hand, will illustrate for you how your rooms are furnished and appointed; will tell you about meals, food and sustenance, and any particular local rules, requirements and protocols; may even tell you what clothing to take, what shoes to wear.
These are all things to help your decision ... and at the end of the day, it is always your decision. And remember this:
Even no decision is still a decision, and no choice is still a choice.
Comedian Eddie Izzard illustrated this with one of his mono-dialogues concerning the Spanish Inquisition. The choice was to be either Cake or Death. Everyone was lined up and asked,
“You – do you choose Cake or Death?”
Understandably, the answers were always cake, until the Inquisitor said they’d run out of cake.
“So my choice is Or Death?” asked the next person.
And at this point his narrative takes a huge sideways leap of comedic artifice. It’s an amusing routine, filled with linguistic tricks, reframes and quantum perceptive leaps. Conversational comedians like Eddie Izzard are masters of “under the radar” perceptionism – and, for me, the Spanish Inquisition, Cake and Death will never again be quite the same way they were!

So, what of my group of receptive young cricketing minds –

Looking at the practicalities

As they were all sat down, I narrowed my eyes and looked up and down the line.
“What am I thinking at the moment?” I asked them.
Many of them attributed their own personal interpretation of my stare, and one in particular said I was “...thinking how naughty we all are, not being quiet or paying attention.”
Very interesting, I considered. Clearly this answer was framed by classroom experiences of teachers with very much that thought in mind.
“That was the furthest thing from my mind,” I said. “I could have bad eyesight and this is my best way of being able to see you all. I could have forgotten what I was going to say and was trying to concentrate and remember what it was. It could’ve been any number of things – but it certainly wasn’t how naughty you all are. Judging,” I said, ”is a bit like deciding – you have to start with an open mind.”

I then threw into the pond the well-known story of five seagulls sitting on a dock.
“I was on Ilfracombe Pier on Sunday and saw five seagulls stood on the edge. One of them decided to fly away. So – how many were left?”
There was a chorus of “four”, which was predictable, and then one voice chirped, “Five.” 
Everybody looked his way and so he elaborated, “one had only decided to fly away, you didn’t say he had actually flown away.”

I pointed out to them that deciding to do something is very different from actually doing that same thing. The birds in the picture are all "safe," pecking around on the parapet. There's plenty of food; they have no need to go elsewhere. However, they ARE birds ... and flying is in their nature.

“In whatever games we play this afternoon,” I said to the young cricketers, “don’t just decide to do something – actually do it! Do it with conviction, like you mean it. Then you’ll find that you’ll be more successful, AND the less thinking time you have between deciding and doing – the better you will be.”

We then got on with the real business of just having some sporting fun; and the extra fun for me was seeing – on the radar of course - what extraordinary feats of performance emerged as the games unfolded.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Give Them a Piece of Your Mind

So you’re angry – there’s a bit of a rant.
You’re clearly affected so who caused it?

What did they do?
Jump ahead of you in the bar queue? Cut you up on the motorway? Call you a wuss on the pitch? Stared at you on the train?
Was it worse than that?
Maybe they got your order wrong? Perhaps they showed a complete lack of interest in serving you? Maybe they were a complete jobsworth? Maybe they’re qualified cheats?
These are all people you don’t even know and you’re already well on the way to giving them a piece of your mind – or, if you prefer the physical solution, a taste of knuckle!
Or perhaps they are just perhaps a bit thick, stupid, mindless ...
So what’s our natural reaction with these types of folk? They’re annoying, frustrating, aggravating, and need to be taken down a peg or two – shown the error of their ways – taught a lesson.
How we allow ourselves to wander – or is it blunder - into these flashpoints, these areas of personal conflict, ire and rage, is a pattern we slip into seemingly not out of choice, but more out of necessity. We have a necessity to assert our identity because there is something about this annoying person that has, cumulatively, impacted upon us in a very personal way – they have struck at the heart of our identity, who we think and feel we are.
I am
On the face of it, one of the generosities of my encountering someone who is really mindless would be to actually “give” them a piece of my mind; to share with them some of my own faculties in order to facilitate some things for them. It is a human kindness. Whether they’ve dropped something, are asking directions, or are just preoccupied with something else – it’s all the same. I’ve helped their mind by giving them a piece of mine for a short while.
However, in the common usage sense and meaning of that phrase, when I ‘give them a piece of my mind’, what am I really doing? I’m telling them what I think of them. I’m applying my view of the world, my set of rules about how the world should run on the basis of “My rules right – their rules wrong”. That’s the piece of my mind I’m giving them, AND probably insisting that they accept it as well!
The presupposition here of course is that my view is right.
Which is as far as it goes if I “call the shots” and if I take the attitude “that’s it – like it or lump it!”
However – things are different if I align my view with my identity; for if I do that, then everyone and everything that doesn’t conform to my view impugns, calls into question, my identity. My person, my very being, is challenged. I will stand up for myself – I will defend myself – I will prevail – I must prevail or I will lose my sense of self-worth. And if don’t prevail, or if I see myself as not prevailing, then I will look to reassert myself at the very next opportunity. This whole state, this mind set, can be seen residing under the banner “Do you, or don’t you, know who I am” and it lives together with a complete lack of humility.
Dipping lights, emotions and hierarchies
We’re driving at night and dip our lights when another car approaches. This is normal.
If the approaching car doesn’t dip its headlights – what then? We flash our lights and they dip theirs. They were distracted and have now conformed. This is normal.
If they don’t dip theirs – what then? We are more than temporarily dazzled. We can respond by doing nothing and just endeavour to concentrate so we can maintain our orientation on the road until they have passed. This is normal.
We can also respond by putting our lights on full beam in order to counter theirs. Reactive as this may be – it is still an option.
These are all robotic responses – they are a set of “If > Then > Or” choices and outcomes.
However, we are humans not robots – and we have emotions and hierarchies of values.
If dipping headlights, for us, is a set of actions judged and placed purely at the behavioural level then we’ll respond in the aforementioned robotic way. We’ll treat the non-dipper as behaving in an inappropriate way and no emotion will enter the arena of activity.
If we take the non-dipper’s action out of the behavioural level into a higher level, our emotional involvement will start to get charged up. We get tense and taut, we’ll start to verbalise our thoughts – and suddenly we aren’t the driver we were just before we encountered the non-dipper.
Our response at the next level up (skills and capabilities) is to judge the non-dipper as being incompetent, incapable of driving properly at night. “How difficult is it for you to do something as simple as dip your lights, moron?” we shout as they approach and then go past in just a matter of seconds.
Our response at the next level (beliefs and values) is more along the lines, “You shouldn’t be on the road, you’re a menace, it’s dangerous what you’re doing, society needs to correct you, I need to correct you...” and so on.
Our response at the next level (identity) is highly personal. This driver is not dipping his lights for ME. More to the point, these are my eyes he’s dazzling, my driving he’s disrupting, my car he’s putting under threat etc. This is me he’s directing his action at – doesn’t he know who I am?
As you can see, with all these responses there is a cumulative pathway. The ‘emotional backpack’ is filling up with meaning every step of every level.
If we carry the worldview that ‘morons and incapables’ threaten or impugn our identity, or that questioning our beliefs about who should be allowed to drive on the road threatens or impugns our identity, then that backpack gets overfilled very, very quickly. The filling gets amplified from every level below.
“Mr Loud”
There are some of us who do carry things thus - here’s part of a conversation I overheard in a restaurant recently. (I’d add here that I only clearly overheard one voice from this conversation, since it was quite loud! And therein is another clue.) A group of four at the adjacent table were talking sport. “Mr Loud” (let’s call him) held sway, and eventually the topic became the Paralympics. Mr Loud’s brazen pronouncement was, “Oh I didn’t watch any. I just couldn’t bring myself to do that – watching those people. That’s not sport. It’s just not right is it?”
While no one else in his coterie challenged his myopic worldview, I resisted a huge temptation – biting my lip and sitting on my hands – not to give him a piece of my mind.
Clearly, for Mr Loud, disability in others strikes deep. His belief is that disability sporting activities – right up to and including the Paralympics - are not sport. He feels what they do is not right – and presumably must be stopped. He labels them as ‘those people’, and just talking about the subject makes him uncomfortable. Yet he’s more than happy to share this worldview, so it’s part of his identity. Nothing will ever shake him from this view, this stance, except perhaps some very extreme personal circumstances.
Prejudice, in whatever form, always goes deep to the level of identity. At some point, proud Mr Loud, sitting atop his world, has views that are almost certain to be involved in a collision with those of someone equally forthright at the other end of the spectrum of compromise.
Keeping the pieces of our Mind
Keeping our mind intact should be one of the things we strive to do every day. Every time we ‘lose it’ by giving away a piece of our mind, then for that day – or that stream of consciousness – we can’t get it back.
I am often reminded of the client I saw who said she had ‘depression’ – except that she was acting out depression to mask her anger. She was happy for the world to see her ‘depression’ but not her anger. She had no peace of mind since every waking moment she was letting pieces of her mind fall into the abyss between her anger and her depression.
Why do we find it easy to get so irate behind the wheel of a car?
We’re in our own little box, thinking we are hidden from the world, and in this box we can express ourselves and be true to our identity and our beliefs. We can behave in whatever way we choose.  The world can still see and hear us of course – but the biggest danger to us is that for every ill-considered comment, every rant, we are giving away a piece of our mind.
If we can keep all the pieces of our mind together, then we will have peace of mind. Our judgements, our appreciations, our actions, our productivity, our thinking and our health and wellbeing, are all best served from a mind that is fully intact. We are able to make the best sense of everything if we are grounded, centred, complete.
We might feel distracted and unable to give our full attentiveness to something because we “are not all there”, or “my mind wasn’t with it”, or “my mind was in another place”, or “I couldn’t get it together”, or “my brain wasn’t in gear”, and so on. However we may describe it metaphorically, it all boils down to something being missing – and the missing piece is a piece of our mind.
So where is your mind today?
Is it all there?
Did you give someone a piece of your mind – however casually – on the way to work?
Check out how much of quality of behaviour do you currently ascribe to other levels such as capabilities, beliefs and values, identity or things spiritual?
Whatever the answer, it’s worth remembering that whatever you have placed in the domain of your identity – that is not really you. It is just what you think or what your views are. You weren’t born with your views. You’ve acquired and learnt them along the way. You can choose to keep them because they are serving you well or change them for others that will serve you better.
The real you lies behind all that.
So - as I sat on my hands in the restaurant, I became comfortable in the knowledge that I still had all the pieces of my mind and that behind the facade of prejudice and discomfort, there exists the real Mr Loud.